The Russian pronoun TAM as a marker of anaphora to an argument

2021. №4, 72-90

Alexander B. Letuchiy
HSE University, Moscow, Russia; Vinogradov Russian Language Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia;


The present article addresses a special use of the Russian locative pronoun tam: the use represented in examples like ‘I talked to her — no understanding of the situation there’. In those contexts, tam refers to a participant (usually animate), rather than a location. After a brief sketch of other uses, I describe the rules and restrictions on the ‘argument’ use of tam. Then, I analyze the role of this use in the Russian pronoun system and relations with the other uses of this pronoun. I propose that this use is mainly related to two others: collective tam (including its minimal variant, referring to a family / pair of humans) and situational, where tam refers to some situation. The function of the ‘argument’ use is demotion of the participant salience: contrary to on ‘he’, the ‘argument’ tam shows that the participant is not salient enough to be the main topic of the text or a part of the text and describes it simply as a location of some properties.

For citation:

Letuchiy A. B. The Russian pronoun tam as a marker of anaphora to an argument. Voprosy Jazykoznanija, 2021, 4: 72–90.


The current research was a part of research work supported by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education grant No. 075-15-2020-793.